Guido Reni, Sacred Painter

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Guido Reni, Sacred Painter

Since childhood I have loved Christian art, no doubt due to my Roman Catholic upbringing. One of my favorite artists is Guido Reni (November 4, 1575—August 18, 1642), an Italian painter of the baroque period, who painted primarily religious themes.

When I was a girl, everyone brought a missal with them to church on Sunday. This missal was a Mass book, and contained the liturgy, plus all the gospel and Old and New Testament readings for every day of the year. It had ribbon markers for holding your places, but many people also collected holy cards as additional markers.

A holy card was a rectangular bookmark that had a religious image on one side and a prayer on the other. I believe some of my holy cards had works by Guido Reni on them.

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St. Michael Archangel

Reni’s life was marked with drama that gave rise to legends about him. For example, in the painting St. Michael Archangel, Satan reportedly bears a resemblance to a cardinal (church official) whom Reni held a grudge against.

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St. Joseph and the Christ Child

Reni received some important commissions in Rome to paint frescos in the Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Vatican. He was also given an assignment to paint the papal Chapel of the Annunciation, but because of a dispute about payment he left Rome and the job defaulted to another artist.

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David with the Head of Goliath

In 1618, Reni traveled to Naples to paint a ceiling in a chapel of the cathedral of San Gennaro. However, the prominent local painters loathed competitors, and supposedly conspired to poison or otherwise harm him. Reni abandoned Naples as soon as he could.

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St. Cecilia

I’ve always had a special affinity for St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Cecilia was my mother-in-law’s middle name, and we passed it on to our youngest daughter as her middle name.

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Jesus Christ with the Cross

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The Baptism of Christ

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St. Matthew and the Angel

St. Matthew is the author of the gospel that bears his name, inspired by God. Perhaps God sent him an angel to tell him what to record.

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Saint James the Greater

St. James the Greater was one of the sons of Zebedee; his brother’s name was John. He is commonly called “the Greater” to distinguish him from two other Jameses in the Bible.

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Self-portrait

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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